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Celebrating 20 Years of Google Australia

An underwater photo of the Great Barrier Reef with a Google Search box superimposed and a turtle swimming through it
Photograph captured by The Ocean Agency

It’s been 20 years since Google landed Down Under, and while our mission has remained the same, our place and work in Australia has evolved over time. The Australian team started in a lounge room in 2002, with just one employee. We now have over 2,000 local Googlers, with about half of us supporting our engineering work, and through our apps and services, we now provide nearly $67 billion in annual economic value to Australia.

From capturing the wonder of Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park via Google Maps Street View and exploring the tales of Aussie sport with Great Sporting Land, to helping small businesses Grow With Google and backing the nation’s innovators and non-profits with Google.org, we’ve partnered with communities to create solutions, and share important information and ideas with the world. We’ve built products that have scaled to the world – including Google Maps, which started right here in Sydney. And we’ve teamed up with over 1.6 million Aussie businesses, large and small, to help them thrive online and reach the world.

Partnerships have been at the heart of our work in Australia, and is core to the Digital Future Initiative – Google’s $1 billion commitment over five years to create jobs and foster innovation in Australia, including teaming up with CSIRO to protect our reef and investing in Quantum computing.

Throughout our journey over the past 20 years, Google Search has been a constant. Aussies have turned to Search to learn and let curiosity run wild, so here are five themes that have defined the past two decades of Search in Australia:

We’re hungry to learn it all

Aussies are renowned for our ‘DIY’ (do it yourself) spirit, and these searches hit an all-time high during the pandemic (May 2020). We’re clearly crafty, searching for DIY blinds, face masks, wedding invites and Christmas decorations. And we’ve looked to learn – how to draw, tie a tie, play guitar, and how to build a cubby house, pizza oven, dog kennel and more. We were also adventurous in the kitchen, with top trending ingredients over the past five years including tomahawk steak, scallops, brisket, sago pearls, lobster tail, tempeh and bone marrow.

We’ve been following the pandemic, politics.. and we’re nuts for sport

Our top news searches spanned sectors and borders. A defining moment in our history, ‘Covid’ topped the list, followed by ‘Trump’. Our obsession with sport shone through, with ‘AFL’ and ‘NRL’ ranking third and fourth, while ‘Arsenal’ and ‘F1’ news also landed in the top 10. Looking further afield, we also searched for news about Ukraine and China.

The natural world is our concern

In January 2020, searches for ‘bushfires’ and ‘air quality’ reached record, all time highs, and overall, ‘bushfire’ and ‘flood’ have dominated natural disaster searches in the last two decades. This year’s rainfall across the East Coast resulted in the second highest spike in interest for floods in Google history – after the 2011 Queensland floods. And as we grapple with La Niña, more people searched ‘when will the rain stop’ in March 2022 than ever before. Our concern with climate change also peaked, with climate anxiety searched 5.5x more in the past five years.

Charity and sustainability are on our minds

Australia is the top nation searching for charity shops, and we’re curious to know if op shops sell everything from pots, books, door beads, perfumes… and even underwear. We also looked up sustainable transport, recycling and searched for electric cars more than ever before.

We dare to care

A keen interest in self care was captured in our searches – from its definition and importance, to looking up self care plans, activities and boxes. We also looked into self care for nurses, social workers, men, mums and teachers. In line with the pandemic, new modes of healthcare were on the agenda too, with interest in ‘telehealth’ peaking in March 2020.

We’ve had fun along the way - including searching for things like ‘time travel’ and ‘space travel’. We enjoyed surprises on Search too, as we acknowledged Aussie icons and moments with Doodles, including the Sydney Opera House, Arthur Boyd, NAIDOC Week, and Cecilia May Gibbs. We gave a tribute to Fairy Bread, and kept an eye out for the ever-mysterious Drop Bear.

A GIF showing a slideshow of Google Doodles in Australia over the years including; the Opera House (2003), Arthur Boyd (2010), Cecilia May Gibbs (2013), The Great Barrier Reef (2017), Steve Irwin (2019), Australian firefighters (2020), and Pearl Gibbs “Gambanyi” (2021)

A snapshot of Google Doodles in Australia over the years including; the Opera House (2003), Arthur Boyd (2010), Cecilia May Gibbs (2013), The Great Barrier Reef (2017), Steve Irwin (2019), Australian firefighters (2020), and Pearl Gibbs “Gambanyi” (2021)

It’s certainly been an amazing 20 years for Google in Australia. A huge thanks to all our amazing Aussie Searchers, Partners, Customers and Googlers! Here’s to the next 20!

To dive into the past two decades in more detail, check out the lists below:

Top ‘how to’ searches in Australia

  1. Draw
  2. Screenshot
  3. Lose weight
  4. Tie a tie
  5. Make money
  6. Have sex
  7. Make chocolate
  8. Play guitar
  9. Make slime
  10. Delete facebook

Top DIY searches in Australia

  1. Blinds
  2. Face mask
  3. Wedding invitations
  4. Christmas decorations
  5. Kitchens
  6. Christmas gifts
  7. Room decorations
  8. Halloween costumes
  9. Tiles
  10. Room decor

Top searched terms alongside “news” in Australia

  1. Covid news
  2. Trump news
  3. AFL news
  4. NRL news
  5. Police news
  6. Qld news
  7. Ukraine news
  8. Arsenal news
  9. F1 news
  10. China news

Natural disasters with the highest search interest

  1. Bushfire
  2. Flood
  3. Cyclone
  4. Earthquake
  5. Storm

Top items searched with “do op shops/charity shops sell…” in Australia

  1. Pots
  2. Books
  3. Underwear
  4. Door beads
  5. Perfume
  6. Bikes
  7. Rags
  8. Sim cards
  9. Gift cards
  10. Cameras

Top questions on self care in Australia

  1. What is self care?
  2. Why is self care important?
  3. How to self care?
  4. What to put in a self care box?
  5. What is self care capacity?
  6. Is self care selfish?
  7. What is a self care plan?
  8. What are self care strategies?
  9. What are self care activities?
  10. What is self care in nursing?

Top searched “self care for …” in Australia

  1. Nurses
  2. Social workers
  3. Men
  4. Mums
  5. Teachers
  6. Kids
  7. New mums
  8. Counsellors
  9. Women
  10. Carers

Top searches for “how to build (a) …” in Australia

  1. Retaining wall
  2. House
  3. Pergola
  4. Cubby house
  5. Fence
  6. Pizza oven
  7. Shed
  8. Dog kennel
  9. Stairs
  10. Gate

Top trending ingredients alongside “how to cook” (past five years vs. previous five years)

  1. Tomahawk steak
  2. Scallops in shell
  3. Brisket
  4. Sago pearls
  5. Lobster tail
  6. Tempeh
  7. Cauliflower rice
  8. Bone marrow
  9. Broccolini
  10. Enoki mushrooms

Top searched types of travel in Australia

  1. Time travel
  2. International travel
  3. Student travel
  4. Last minute travel
  5. Smart travel
  6. Space travel
  7. Load and go travel
  8. Air travel
  9. World travel
  10. Cheap travel